Archive | July, 2009


31 Jul

Hey guys, sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m in the UK until mid August and have been really busy.

That said, I must get something off my chest. I fucking hate Evony and their advertising. Maybe you’ve seen them around? The ads look like this:

EvonyOh noes! The sexy blonde white woman has a sword being held to her boobs! Save the tatas! Give me a break…..But the ads get worse:


Even more blatant boobage. The game isn’t advertising it’s features, it’s relying solely on giving lonely young men hard-ons for imaginary women. The sickening thing is that this usually works. Unfortunately the promise of boobs is as luring to this demographic as a dangling cheeseburger is to a starving African.

Eventually the ads dive off the deep end and if it weren’t for the text, you’d never know they were advertising a computer game:


It looks like a naughty magazine cover. Just look at those lips, now imagine them wrapped softly around your….

You know that’s what they want you to be subconsciously thinking. I also want to point out one more reason why this game’s ads suck. Look at this picture:


(Yes, Evony is just Civony with a new name) See that castle up in the top left? Does it look familiar? Well if you’ve played Age of Empires II it should:


Yep, the took the graphic from this classic RTS. *facepalm*

Now I love that part of the female anatomy just as much as the next guy, but don’t insult my intelligence by expecting me to want to play a game solely because you show me some skin. And I also object to the way the game objectifies women as helpless sex objects. I think it really says something about the maladjusted people who fall for this type of crass advertising….

Being creepy…

20 Jul

I’m afraid I come across as a creepy guy in real life. It’s something I’m paranoid about. A lot of times I just don’t know what to say, and so I just end up standing there, quietly, like I’m hovering. :-\

I’m always trying desperately to think of some topic of conversation, but sometimes I find myself telling these slightly long stories that people just aren’t too interested in, or I accidentally make some off-hand comment.

I’m really not that good at making friends. I’m trying to get better at it. It was a skill I never learned In school from 4th grade I had 1 friend for all ,and didn’t bother going out and making new friends.

Now I try to just smile and be enthusiastic when meeting people. I try to talk about them and not ask really stupid questions, though sometimes I find myself asking the same thing twice later in the conversation because my memory sucks. So far I’ve found that when it comes to trying to become friends with women, it really helps if I mention my girlfriend.

I take it they are on guard for guys who are hitting on them and just trying to get in their pants, and when I mention that I have a girlfriend back home they no longer see me as a danger. I notice they really relax after they learn this.

I really don’t want to be “that creepy guy” I just feel like it’s a vibe I give off. 😦

The last one…

20 Jul

Here’s just a thought that came across me the other day. What is it with characters being “The last one.” For example, “The last air bender.” I saw the trailer and there was like one dude, with thousands of bad dudes coming to get him.

Ok, lets think about this for a moment. “The last one of a once powerful race” is a very common motif in films and games. But honestly, if something is the last of its kind, it means its kind probably got their asses handed to them, bad.

Despite this all the “lasts” are portrayed as powerful, almost unbeatable beings. In the “Last airbender” movie, they’re sending thousands of guys to kill one dude. You’d think that in situations like this, the bad guys, having killed of all the others of kind X would have the technique pretty well practiced. But no, it always turns out that the bad guys have no idea how to kill the “last” of something they’ve eradicated, and the last X kicks all their butts and saves the day…

You’re not a bad person….

17 Jul

Just a thought I’ve been having lately.

I personally know two people who when I first met them, they were in no way religious. Now both of them are evangelical christians preoccupied with their “unworthiness” and “sin.”

What happened to them? They seemed totally fine on the outside, then out of nowhere they convert. I talked to one of them loosely about this and he said he had no liked who he was in the past, and didn’t realize how much of a sinner he was.

This took me as a shock because the friend I was talking to was a really nice guy. He was extremely popular because of his personality, never drank or smoked, and only had sex with one woman with whom he was in a steady relationship.

The other friend claimed to be Buddhist at the time I met her, though I think she was only saying that because I was Buddhist at the time too, and she also wasn’t particularly religious either. She drank, though not any more than the typical college freshman, and had had sex before, but nothing outrageous. Unlike my earlier friend, she was not very popular. She only hung out with my and another girl at school.

She was a bit strange however. She wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and she did a lot of awkward things socially, but that was about it. She eventually dropped out of college for a bit, converted, got married, and is now going somewhere else.

These conversions totally took me by surprise. I’m starting to suspect that my two friends are victims of the “you’re a sinner” mentality. Now I don’t know if they are in a full fledged exclusive cult, but convincing a person he or she is damned/a bad person is a universal trait among all cults/religions*.

“You are a sinner and you must except this and repent in order to be saved. The reason bad things are happening to you is because you haven’t accepted (insert deity/religion here) into your life.”

Here is an interesting site that details this tactic, along with many other tactics cults use.

I think it’s pretty sad that my two friends have fallen into this. They are so convinced of their own worthlessness it’s despicable.

You’re not a bad person! There is no heaven or hell, and there was no talking snake with an apple that condemned everyone to eternal fire. By extension there is no such thing as sin. (Post on that pending) Sure bad things happen to people in life, it’s not because you don’t belong for belief system X. Sure you might have done some things in the past you weren’t proud of, everyone has. Human beings make mistakes, it is natural. Seek forgiveness from yourself and those you have wronged, not by convincing yourself that you’re somehow unclean…

*Except Unitarian Universalists ~_^

Faith healing

14 Jul

An old college acquaintance of mine recently announced that a friend of hers had been cured of cancer for the fifth time. While I wholeheartedly agree that this is wonderful and amazing news, I disagree that it was her friend’s faith in Jesus that cured her.

Now I do not have all the facts about the event, but this is what I can gather from my friend’s facebook note:

  • The woman in question has had cancer four times in the past
  • The cancer she just recovered from was somehow different from her previous cancers
  • The doctors and the woman in question disagreed on how to treat the cancer
  • The woman decided to try praying for a cure
  • Four hours after being declared “healed” by fellow religious members, the doctors reported her cancer had stopped growing

The note does not mention what type of cancer she had, what her previous cancers had been, whether the cancer was malignant or benign, and what time the tests were done that told the doctors the cancer had stopped growing.

Firstly, the note only mentions that the cancer stopped growing. While this is great, it is not the same thing as “healed”. “Healed” would be if the cancer was gone entirely. Secondly, it would be nice to know what time the tests were conducted, and how long it took for the results to come back. If, for example, the tests were done at 10 am, she was declared “healed” at 12, and the results came back at 4 pm, the cancer had stopped growing at least 2 hours before the “healing” took place.

Thirdly, did the woman in question attribute her four previous recoveries to faith healing? If so, why does she keep getting cancer? One would assume it only takes god once to get the job done. Also, is it possible that her previous experiences with cancer left her body better prepared to fight a new cancer?

I would also like to know how this fifth cancer was different. Was it weaker than her previous four cancers or stronger? Is this rare cancer usually fatal or does it have a history of getting better on its own?

Most importantly, can the doctors explain why she got better? (The note makes no mention of this) Let’s assume that the doctors can’t explain why the cancer stopped growing. The fact that it can’t be explained in no way supports the claim that supernatural powers are at work. The unexplained is just that, unexplained. To claim that because you can’t explain something, supernatural powers are at work is actually a contradiction. You are saying “I can’t explain something, therefore I can explain it.”

When you label and event supernatural simply because it has no explanation that is obvious to you, you’ll inevitably misinterpret evidence, make invalid causal connections, and eliminate whole realms of alternative explanations before it is even clear what explanations might be appropriate.

It is important to note that similar claims of faith healing have been made by adherents of a variety of different mutually exclusive religions throughout history. The fact that the patient’s cancer stopped growing is no more evidence that Jesus healed her than an ancient Egyptian’s claim that Ra healed him.

When judging the effectiveness of something, it is important to record the “misses” as much as the “hits.” Well meaning people often make the mistake of only paying attention to the data that supports their preconceived notions.

According to the National Cancer Institute, it is estimated that 1,479,350 men and women (766,130 men and 713,220 women) will be diagnosed with and 562,340 men and women will die of cancer of all sites in 2009.

According to the Barna Group, which has been measuring the size of the evangelical public since 1994, 38% of the US population describes themselves as “evangelical christians”.

For the sake of the argument, if we overlay the 38% over the 1,479,350 we come out with 562,153. That is roughly the number of evangelical christians who will get cancer.  Of that 562,153, around 213,689 will die. That’s approximately a 40% failure rate.

In 2006 the Templeton Foundation, a religious organization that aims to affirm faith through science, published the report of a decade long experiment aimed at studying the effectiveness of prayer when it comes to healing the sick. Unfortunately for the Templeton Foundation, the study found that prayers had no effect. In fact, just the opposite:

“patients who knew they were being prayed for had a higher rate of post-operative complications like abnormal heart rhythms, perhaps because of the expectations the prayers created, the researchers suggested.”

One last thing to consider. The note my friend published did not mention the age of the woman in question. I’m assuming she is around the same age of my friend, and thus over 18. “Faith healing” can have a very dark side, especially if the person undergoing the “healing” is of an age where they cannot make rational adult decisions about their health.

“Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty” (CHILD) is a children’s advocacy group that monitors the religious based medical neglect and abuse of children in the United States.

For the years 1975-1995, CHILD documented 172 instances of children in the U.S. dying from treatable illnesses after their parents rejected standard medical care and relied solely on religion. CHILD’s president, Rita Swan, says the actual number is far higher.

The courts have consistently ruled that parents do not have a constitutional right to harm children. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects religious freedom, but does not confer a right to abuse or neglect children. The leading case is Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944), in which the U. S. Supreme Court ruled, “The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or child to communicable disease, or the latter to ill health or death. . . . Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves.”

Nevertheless, state and federal governments have created many religious exemptions allowing parents to withhold some medical care from children, almost entirely because of Christian Science lobbying.

War & Pacifism

13 Jul

During an 8 hour drive today I had a lot of time to think about war and pacifism. I abhor war. Yes I find it very interesting to study, but it really is a tragedy any time one group of people commits organized mass murder on another group of people.

In order for you to kill another human being you must first de-humanize them. You have to separate yourself from them, and them from humanity. It’s much easier to kill them when they’re detached that way. It’s the same principle behind road rage. People who commit acts of road rage often view their targets as just cars. It’s much easier that way. You wouldn’t react that way if you were both walking on a sidewalk. Yes you might get upset if someone did something rude or inconsiderate, but without a car you would be forced to see them as a person.

The really sad thing is that once you realize that the people you’re killing are people, you realize that in any other situation you might be friends with them. They could be your neighbor, your co-worker, a lover. Someone you’d invite to your kid’s birthday party, someone you’d go out and see a movie with. Someone who’d send you a get well card when you were sick. Another human being with pains and joys just like you.

There are some people in the my country who want to bomb and invade Iran. I imagine they view Iranians as a sub-human, America hating, nefarious people. But here, look at this picture of some of these “wicked” people:

They are the same as you and me! Why would you want to drop a bomb on these three women?

As the world has gotten smaller through the internet, I have met and befriended so many interesting people in ways not even conceivable 20 years ago. I’ve met people in Germany, El Salvador, Australia, England, South Africa, Holland, Canada, Switzerland, you name it! These are awesome people, and you know what the most amazing thing is? They are all just like you and me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love watching war movies, yet there is something I think few people stop and think about while watching them. That something comes across in this gripping scene from “All quiet on the Western front.” (Fast forward to 5 minutes in, that’s the important part)

Yes, you might be watching a war movie and around the main character people are getting shot left and right, and the action pulses on. But stop. Rewind. Now pay attention to that anonymous soldier getting shot. As he collapses to the ground the action goes on, meanwhile he is bleeding to death and going into shock. You might not know it, but he has a name. He had birthday parties and cake growing up, like you. He had a childhood, like you. He probably was nervous the first time he kissed a girl, excited when he got his first bicycle. He had a family, and perhaps even now has a wife and child who will never see him come home because he is hemorrhaging in the dirt.

Another thing nobody considers is the actual pain and damage inflicted on the other person. On the subject of their line of “tactical” guns (aka, not for hunting animals), Remington states:

Tactical is more than just a type of gun or knife. Tactical is a state of mind. It’s knowing you have the right tool for the job, and the confidence to do it, regardless of how intense. In situations where tactical performance matters, why would you rely on anything but the best? Remington, tactically smart.”

Right tool for the job? It’s a fucking human being! Not a goddamn leaky sink! Your taking a piece of metal and shooting it into another person just like you or your child with so much force that it’s going to rip and shred every bone, vain, and muscle it touches. “Right tool for the job”? What a euphemism.

One of the downsides to modern combat is just how impersonal killing has become. You press a button and a building miles away blows up. Big deal. You no longer have to get close enough to your victim to grab hold of them, feel their pulse, their sweat and look them in the eye as you plunge that blade into their body, then watch and listen as they scream and the light fades from their eyes.

So, after this long post, does this mean I’m a pacifist? No. I think this picture can best sum up pacifism:


As much of a tragedy as war is, I’m not a pacifist. I believe in defensive war, but not offensive. People and nations have the right to defend themselves from outside threats, but I don’t agree with using offensive force to get one’s way.

On a personal note…

11 Jul

It’s almost 6 in the morning and I have yet to sleep, though I know I won’t be able to until I get this down. Why the hell do all my best thoughts come to my as I’m lying on my bed, too tired to write, and nowhere near a computer, only to have those thoughts run blank when I sit down to the keyboard….

This will be a long post, so please bear with me. Lets cut to the chase shall we? I feel like I have no control over my life. This was a revelation my girlfriend brought about. Ever since then things have started making  more and more sense, yet now that I know what the problem is I don’t know what to do about it.

I guess I’ve always had an issue with control. Not the “I need the TV remote” or “I don’t want you talking to those people” kind of control, no, this was something different. I think it first started showing up af family reunions when I was a kid. I always had to go, and nobody took me seriously. I wasn’t allowed to do anything, and I always had to sit at the kiddy table. Since then I’ve always wanted to be older. When I was 10 I wanted to be 12, when I was 12 I wanted to be 16, 16, 18, 18, 21, 21, 23.

People kept telling me “Aw, you’ll regret wanting to be older, enjoy being a kid!” You know what? They were fucking wrong! I love being older! This too has to do with control. With each new age came more control, less restrictions, more potential actions.

When I was 18 and no longer bound by city curfew, I would sometimes go out to late night movies by myself. At the time I just felt like it, but looking back on it, this was a control issue. I did this because I subconsciously wanted to show myself that I had control over my movements. I want to go see a really late movie? Fine, then I will! A lot of things were like this for me.

For the longest time I’ve had the feeling that I was walking on the ocean floor. There was constantly all this pressure and SO much resistance to me doing anything. Here’s a good example: In a week’s time I will be leaving for Newcastle England. The fact that I’m going on this trip is amazing given all the little shit that tried to stop me from going. All the things that tried to keep me from going were beyond my control.

First I had to find a program. After a few days of looking I found one at Newcastle University that looked promising. After that I had to try and convince my parents to shell out $3,000. Once that was accomplished I had to find out if I could get credit through my college. (This is where the bullshit starts) To do this there were a lot of hoops I had to jump through. I had to criss-cross campus going from one person to the next to get the required signatures. I never knew it would be so much work to study abroad for 3 weeks! After everything was done, money paid, I had one signature left to get, that of the dean’s.

Now, I thought this would be a piece of cake. I knew the dean personally, and I was one of his preferred students. He was aware of my trip and thought it was a cool plan. Now, it is important to know that by the time all of this is done, it is literally the last few days of school. There was nothing I could do to make this process go any faster, it depended on other people. Anyways, I finally find the dean and try to get him to sign. He informs me that he is no longer the dean as of 9am that morning, that his term of acting dean was up seeing as the actual dean had returned, a lady I did not know.

I waited 4 hours for her the next day. I was at a bottleneck and getting desperate. I needed her signature for this trip. I left the form with her student assistant, but the assistant left the next day. I found my form at the bottom of a pile of papers in her assistant’s office. I tried to knock on her door to get her to sign (it would have taken 3 seconds) but she slammed the door shut in my face as she was with another lady.

I was fucked. I left the paper with the study abroad manager and told him what happened. I’m about to leave and I still have no idea if I got the signature. And it’s not like it was my fault for waiting till the last minute to get this done! I did everything as soon as I could, but seeing how everything depended on other people, I had no control over it. All that work, time, effort, and money, only to have one person fuck me over.

Next I found out I had to get a student visa. That also had a lot of hoops I had to jump though. I had to get all the forms in order, pay them $244, and go get my fingerprints taken. When all that was done I had to mail the packet of forms to the British Consulate in California, the other side of the country from Virginia. Again, I did everything as soon as I could, but even by then it was cutting it close to the wire. I get an e-mail saying my visa requires further review. Fucked. Now there is no way in hell my visa will get here in time for my trip. $244 down the drain, and I might be turned away at the gates.

Walking through water….This is a big example, but it can be as small as needing a pencil, only to reach for one and knock it off my desk. So much resistance to me doing anything.

pressureThis is just one example, I have many more. Most of the time I just feel like I’m up the creek without a paddle. My desperate thrashing in an attempt to influence my direction is nothing more than a futile waste of energy.

I just don’t know what to do. I don’t want to be like this. I want to get better, I want to have control. This theme also creeps into my dreams!

There are 2 recurring themes in my dreams. Either I’m being hunted by something and I’m trying to escape, or I try to fight back and everything I do is ineffective. Just last night I had a dream where some guy came and murdered my entire family. The twist was it that the event kept repeating like the movie groundhog day. Each time I would try to kill or trick the bag guys, and each time I would fail. Most notable was that my gun never worked. Yes, I had a gun that I would try and use to shoot the bag guys before they murdered everyone, but it would either never fire, or the bullets would land harmlessly 3 feet from the gun, like little pellets.

I would try everything, but the gun would not work! Also, for some reason I kept trying to load AA batteries into my gun’s chamber. This isn’t the first time I’ve done this in a dream, I don’t know why the hell I do it. They don’t fire. So each time I would fail and each time everybody would die…

What about neanderthals?

8 Jul

Just a quick thought:

I wonder if religious people ever consider the fact that there were around 13 other species of humans that we have hard evidence for. See Homo (Genus) What implications does that have for the whole “god made us in his image” idea? What does this mean for those who believe the world is only 6,000 years old?

Could you imagine the religious implications if there were not only different races of human, but different species still around today?

How you play the game

7 Jul

I grew up playing the RTS series Age of Empires. In the last installment, Age of Empires III I was a “no rush” player. The game had the option to set a “treaty time” before the match. During this time players could not build outside of a certain radius, nor could units attack.

I, and a lot of other people, really enjoyed this style of play. It allowed us to build up and utilize all of the features that came with the game, not to mention really fun massive battles. However,  “No Rush” players as they were called came under attack from “rush” players. Rush players saw “no rush” games as a bastardization of their game, rules for wimps and noobs. They enjoyed the frantic pace of trying to get as many units up as quick as you could to destroy the other guy as fast as you could. By nature these games were fast, short, and only utilized a fraction of the available features of the game.

Rush players often complained that no rush games lacked strategy, that they “were done building up” within 7-8 minutes, and didn’t like the idea of waiting around 30 minutes to play. Oddly enough, when rush players put their money where their mouth was, they often got their ass handed to them by seasoned no rush players. There was strategy involved, just not what rush players were used to.

In single player games, my friends often give me a hard time for using cheats. Now before you make a judgement, hear me out. I play two types of games with every game I play. I play it honestly, and then I cheat. Usually I have two different saves. I don’t see anything wrong with this, but my friends do.

First off, it’s my game, I can play it however I like. (Keep in mind I don’t cheat in multiplayer) Secondly, what is the purpose of a game? To have FUN. Remember fun? Sometimes I have fun playing a game straight, sometimes I have fun playing with cheats and steam rolling my opponents. Sometimes I have fun playing with a different rule set (no rush games).

I don’t see why people feel they need to tell me I’m playing the game wrong if I’m having fun. Why must I play it your way if that way is not fun to me? It defeats the very purpose of playing! Live and let live, play and let play.

Religious people aren’t stupid

6 Jul

Ok, I just wanted to get this out here. In case anyone reads this blog and thinks I believe religious people are stupid, I don’t. I try to be a little more intellectual than just saying “well you’re stupid.”

There are many reasons why people might be religious. They may have been brought up in the faith by their parents and never given it much serious thought because its not a big deal, or they might look at the universe and feel it was designed, it could be a number of things. It doesn’t make them stupid.

Human beings are not rational creatures. There are plenty of very smart, highly educated people who believe in god(s). I may have my reasons for why I feel their reasons for believing in god(s) is wrong, but that doesn’t make them stupid.